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Aligning Strategy, Leadership, Culture, and Purpose - Paper 3: Strategy

As a topic, Strategy has a lot of ‘air-time’, as witnessed by simply googling ‘strategy’: you get About 2,120,000,000 results (1.15 seconds).

Definitions abound and can vary with author emphasis. Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve goals are usually limited. Strategy generally involves, setting goals and priorities, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources). Strategy can be intended or can emerge as a pattern of activity as the organization adapts to its environment or competes. It involves activities such as strategic planning and strategic thinking.

Alfred Chandler (1962) postulated:

"Strategy is the determination of the basic long-term goals of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals.”(1)

Michael Porter (1980) defined strategy in more detail as:

".(a) broad formula for how a business is going to compete; what its goals should be and what policies will be needed to carry out those goals" and the "...combination of the ends (goals) for which the firm is striving and the means (policies) by which it is seeking to get there."(2)

Components of Strategy

Richard Rumelt (2011) pointed out that good strategy has an underlying structure which he called a kernel, which has three parts:

1) A diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge;

2) A guiding policy for dealing with the challenge; and

3) Coherent actions designed to carry out the guiding policy.(3)

President Kennedy of the United States illustrated these three elements of strategy in his 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis Address:

1. Diagnosis: "This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military build-up on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites are now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere."

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